Henrik Stenson is making his first start in the U.S. this season, and is ready to go after a couple weeks off.
Stenson won the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in 2007, but reminded everyone he has not done well since the tournament switched courses in 2009:
I had two great years in ’07, ’08. And then we changed courses, [and] the record hasn’t quite been the same since. If anyone knows the stats, we’ve been going home Wednesday afternoon every year since. Once or twice I played poorly, once I was sick, and just haven’t got it going on this golf course.
Stenson spoke about searching for his golf swing instead of focusing on the fundamentals after a great season in 2013:
You’re coming off a good year and you remember how it felt when you were hitting good shots. And then I wasn’t quite hitting them as good when I started in the Middle East. And then it’s easy to get tricked into looking for the feelings again instead of just [saying], okay, what [are] the basics, and do some solid work, and then you will get the good feelings…So it’s getting there. Got more pressure on the ball again. If it looks like golf and sounds like golf, you’re normally pretty close.
Hunter Mahan, who won the WGC-Accenture in 2012 and lost to Matt Kuchar in the finals last year, spoke about adjusting his game for the warm desert air and high altitude:
Getting used to the distances this week and how far the ball is traveling, and especially flying into some of these greens. You really have to know how far you’re hitting it. You can hit a lot of good shots. But if you’re a little off in your distance, you’re going to have some difficult putts and maybe some difficult up and downs. Getting used to the conditions here is going to be very important.
Bubba Watson, the winner of last week’s Northern Trust Open, spoke about dealing with nerves, and coming down the stretch at The Golf Club at Dove Mountain:
I mean when a match is coming down, no matter what a player says, they’re nervous. So we’re all nervous, we all have the same shots.
Let’s just look at 16. 16 is a par‑3. It’s a tough hole. It depends on where they put the tee. I think they use three different tee boxes there or they can. So it’s a tough one, especially when they put the pin behind the bunker. Everybody is nervous. Everybody is trying to play a position game.
Then on 17, you’ve got the long bunker down the right. Tough green. Depending on where they put the pin that green is tough.
Then 18 is the same. Try to hit it in the fairway to a tricky green, depending on where they put the pin, how tricky it really is.
Both players are going to be nervous. There’s no hole that favors anybody unless the wind is in the right direction…then somebody can fly over the bunker on 17, and fly over the bunkers on 18.
Don’t forget to sign-up for the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship Bracket Challenge.